Readership program benefits recycling efforts

October 30, 1997

With more than 42 tons of newspapers recycled to date, Penn State's Residence Hall Newspaper Readership Program is encouraging increased recycling of other materials including cans and plastics.

At the University Park campus, an average of 1.3 tons of newspapers a day -- about half of the 10,000 newspapers being distributed on campus through the readership program -- is being recycled.

"There has been an increase in the amount of recyclable material collected across the board, most noticeably in plastics," Al Matyasovsky, foreman for solid waste management at the University, said. "We attribute the increase to the attention recycling has received due to the readership program and the emphasis on waste management."

The increase in recycled materials is modest, but significant -- representing 1 percent to 2 percent of the total material.

Students living on campus have been receiving copies of The New York Times, USA Today and the Centre Daily Times (local Centre County newspaper) since August. The papers are placed in residence hall lobbies -- 44 locations at University Park alone -- and the residence halls at eight other Penn State locations. The program was funded by adding $5 a semester to student room and board rates, due to the low rates offered by cooperating newspapers.

Informal recycling programs had existed at Penn State since the early 1970s. In October 1989, a University-wide recycling policy and program were implemented in anticipation of requirements posed by Pennsylvania's Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act. The act required educational institutions to recycle minimum levels of high-grade paper, corrugated cardboard, aluminum cans and leaf waste.

A special recycling program has been arranged to handle the additional newspaper volume created through the readership program. Millions of pounds of shredded newspaper are now being converted to "PennMulch." Sold to turfgrass professionals across the United States and Canada, the product was developed several years ago by George Hamilton, a Penn State researcher. In addition to recycling the newspapers, PennTurf, the company that manufactures PennMulch, promised to fund a student scholarship.

On Oct. 10 a PennTurf representative presented the first check for $1,000, which is being matched by The New York Times, USA Today and the Centre Daily Times collectively. If Penn State readership and recycling totals hold out, new scholarships from the recycling company and newspaper publishers will be coming in every few weeks.

Last Updated March 19, 2009